Organizing My House: The Home Office

by Ann-Marie on January 10, 2011

Well, here goes!  This is the first in a series where I’ll show you my ‘problem areas’ of cluttered rooms in my house, and how I am working on de-cluttering, cleaning, organizing and keeping it that way.

This is by no means a quick fix, and as a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids (ages 6.5, almost 5, and 2), it is very much a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of project. Especially with the 2-year-old. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this process won’t be either. I am not a professional organizer (duh, see below!) but I’ve learned a few tips that I’ll be sharing with you throughout the series. And please feel free to comment with anything you’ve learned, or if you share my frustrations with clutter in your own home!

Oh, and since you usually don’t stop by a blog to read a novel, I will break up each room’s progress into several posts, over the next few months.

Home Office Headache

The first space which, quite frankly, required the most urgent attention, is our home office. You can see from this first photo, there is a decent-looking desk, computer desk and bookshelves that match the room and serve the space fairly well.

I’ve labeled the areas that are needing attention:

A:  My in-box piles. More on that in my next post.
B:  Hubby’s in-box piles. At least he usually can keep his to the file basket, with a couple of exceptions of current projects.
C:  Generally, paper junk. Coupons I’ve printed that may or may not be expired, post-it notes, Pampers Gifts-to-Grow and Huggies Rewards codes I need to input, notes of things I need to do or look up on the computer.
D:  Clothes to sell. I have a bad habit of trying to make the most money I can from re-selling my kids’ outgrown clothes. “I would only get $1 at a garage sale for this, or I could post it on Craig’s List and ask for $5, then actually sell it for $3.” Seriously, I know I should just donate and take the tax write-off, but I like the feel of cash in my hand. I may need therapy for that one.
E:  Bags of clutter. Yes it’s not enough for me to have piles of clutter on my desk, but I like to bag it up as well!  The clutter in these bags most likely came from my kitchen counter, and when I’m in the 11th hour before guests arrive instead of taking the time to put every paper where it belongs, I shove it all into a bag and put it in the office to deal with later. But “later” never comes.
F:  Box of files. One of our file drawers in the desk completely fell apart, and while hubby tried to fix it, it would take a carpenter to get it working again, and since a carpenter would cost more than the desk did, we’re getting by with a Xerox box of files that were in that drawer. Which means our desk chair can’t slide underneath.
G:  Kids’ papers to save. Now surely everyone has a pile like this somewhere?  You get 100 papers a week, and even though you only save a couple papers, those certainly add up over the months. I have a plan for them, it’s just not in place yet.
H:  Crap we don’t know what else to do with. In this photo, it would be a bag of 40-year-old family photos on slides. Certainly not ‘crap’, but for now we’re just not sure what to do with it. Probably should go into storage, but for now it sits on top of the computer hutch.

Here’s a shot of another corner of the room, which has a (very full) lateral file, topped with bookshelves.

A:  My in-box piles.
B:  Hubby’s in-box piles.

C:  Photos upon oodles of photos.
Any photos we have taken and printed since we moved to the house in 9/08, have sat here. Along with those ginormous envelopes from JC Penney Portrait Studio, class photos and soccer team photos. Honestly, this may be the last to get organized, because I need to figure out exactly where and how to store these memories. See the small yellow box? That has 11 Mini-DV tapes from our old camcorder. It’s another “need-to”, I need to send those out and burned to dvd, just haven’t gotten around to it.
D:  Might-need-its.
Priority Mail envelopes and various size boxes, pieces of cardboard that I may need to pack into a large envelope to mail something in (“one day”), framed art/photos that haven’t made it on the walls (in 2 years!), posterboard, blahbity blah blah…

So there you have it!  That’s what the space looked like before I began. If you haven’t yet seen a common theme, it’s the word “later”. I’ve been meaning to … I haven’t had a chance yet to … I’ll work on that … LATER. Peter Walsh, organization guru, has his own show now on Oprah’s new OWN network, called Enough Already!. I caught the first episode, and that’s exactly what he said was the most common among theme cluttered homes, the concept that you’ll work on it “later”, but later never comes.

Well ‘later’ is the process I’m starting now. Thanks for joining me!

Next up, my step-by-step process in organizing this room.  Stay tuned!


Organizing My House: Getting Started

by Ann-Marie on January 3, 2011

So if you missed my post on Sunday, I made a big leap in announcing that I am starting to get a little more personal by letting you see my cluttered house (gulp!).

Not every room is cluttered, and when we have friends over I do a darn good job of making the house presentable; but I certainly have my problem areas:  Our home office is the worst (one of the first rooms guests see as they step in the front door), the kitchen (clutter on a small desk and just about every counter), the master bedroom (stacks of outgrown kids clothes on the floor), and the basement (English pub mixed with Fisher Price, you get the picture!).

Those are the 4 rooms I’ll be tackling over the next few months – yes, “months”, because I’m realistic. I would be doing you and myself a disservice to make a claim to get it done any faster. Lordie, you should see what my children can do to a room! Talk about one step forward, two steps back…

I digress.

My goals in this process are as follows:

  • Clean, clear surfaces: I am one of those that would prefer not to have a single appliance out in my kitchen, and for them all to be hidden in cabinets. However I’m also practical and the ones used most often will stay on the counter.
  • Finding a permanent home: My friend from church, Joani, is a professional organizer, and a few years ago I hired her to help with my mess of a home office. One thing she taught me is to find a “permanent home” for everything. If it won’t be in this (room/drawer/box/folder etc.) permanently, then where should it be, and put it there. I already mentioned my home office is a dumping ground, this will be a critical step in organizing this room.
  • Functional, usable space: The two rooms high on this list are the office and basement. Ideally I’d love to replace our current wall-to-wall office furniture with a scaled down set, using the rest of the room for either a reading space or children’s desk. And our basement, as described above, has decor & dark colors of an English pub, accented with a train table, play kitchen and gobs and gobs of toys.
  • Keepin’ it that way: Ah, here it is. The thorn in my side. You’ve heard of “yo-yo dieting”?  Well, I have yo-yo organized my entire adult life. For me to say “I’ll try…” would cause my split personality to snap back a line from Yoda, “Do – or do not. There is no ‘try’.” But this is one reason why I decided to open up my house to you, virtually at least, so that I am holding myself accountable.

This project will be a constant work-in-progress, because even when the counters are cleared, and the piles are filed, it is more a lifestyle change to put everything in its place, similar to a diet becoming a lifestyle change in the way one eats. So thank you for helping me to be accountable, and for going on this journey with me.


Happy New Year!

by Ann-Marie on January 2, 2011

Many of you may have personal resolutions for the new year of being more fit, eating healthier, and of course saving more money. I would also invite you to have some goals for your home. Maybe you have a ‘problem area’ such as counter clutter, or an entire room that becomes a dumping ground when company comes?

Make small steps toward a large goal, like the old adage How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Throughout the next few months on Chaos Is Bliss, I will show you step-by-step and room-by-room how to declutter … and keep it that way. You’ll get a more personal look at my own home, and (gulp!) my own problem areas, and how I am struggling just like you to keep my home in a somewhat orderly fashion. If you aren’t already getting updates, I would invite you to subscribe via email or RSS so you’re sure not to miss a thing!

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